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Enrollment Strategies: Staying Top of Mind for Admission Next Year
Connor Gleason

At the end of the day, school enrollment management strategies are about building and nurturing relationships with potential families. It's about making sure that when families are ready to make a decision, your school is the first one they think of, and it requires patience, consistency, and genuinely caring about the families you want to reach.

But knowing why a student decides not to enroll is crucial. It's your school's job to understand these reasons so you can engage families in a way that meets their needs or concerns. It could be because of:

  • Financial Considerations: For many families, the cost of education is a big factor or THE factor. They might be saving, looking for financial aid, or comparing the costs of different schools. 
  • Timing: Sometimes, the timing just isn't right. A family might be dealing with a move, a job change, personal situations, or waiting for the right academic year.
  • Exploring Options: Families often look at multiple schools to find the best fit for their children's needs and interests.

Whatever the reason, you still need to build relationships with families over time and create a lasting connection. When potential students feel a part of your school (even when they’re technically not), they're more likely to think of you first when they decide to explore options.

So, how do you put your school in a better position to get an enrollment later on down the road?

Understand Your Target Audience

Your marketing and communications strategy revolves around three key ideas to reach your families: personalized messaging, supportive resources, and keeping an open line of communication. Even if someone isn’t ready to enroll this year, that moment might come, and you want to be their first thought.

  • Personalized Messages: When you know what concerns a family, your messages can address those issues. For example, if a family worries about costs, you can provide information about financial aid in your emails.
  • Regular Check-ins: Keep in touch with these families regularly, but don't overwhelm them. A friendly email or a call now and then shows you care and keeps your school in their minds.
  • Helpful Information: Provide information that answers their questions or eases their concerns. If they're exploring options, send them materials that show your school's strengths and what students enjoy most about being there.
OUSD faq on an iphone

Oakland Unified School District takes this approach by offering families resources via a thorough FAQ section within its enrollment pages. The FAQs answer questions about accepting and declining and provide information about waitlist options.

Build Long-Term Relationships

Think about this as building a long-term relationship with potential families through:

  • Regular Updates: Keep them informed about what's happening at your school. This could be done through a monthly newsletter, blog posts, or social media updates that show the full student experience.
  • Involve Them in Community Activities: Invite them to participate in community events, even if they're not enrolled. This could be a community service day, a school play, or a big sports event.
  • Provide Valuable Resources: Share resources that could be helpful to them. For example, if they're concerned about boarding life, provide information on mentorship programs or student life activities. Showcase student success stories and the value of their investment.
Mt. Paran School blog

Your content, like blog posts, videos, and newsletters, should be interesting and relevant to your audience. Mt. Paran School’s blog on what to do when you’re on a waitlist offers helpful solutions, but it also offers a chance to join its newsletter, which provides even more resources for families and private school admission tips.

Be There at the Right Moment

One of the best enrollment marketing strategies is putting yourself in a position to get enrollments later on — it's not all about getting families to enroll now. Building a connection with them is more important, even if they're not ready to enroll.

  • Consistent Presence: Stay in touch, but don't be overwhelming. Regular, but not too frequent, communication is key.
  • Understanding Their Timeline: Some families might be looking to enroll next year; others might be thinking further ahead. Tailor your communication to fit their timeline.
  • Offering Help When Needed: Be ready to provide assistance or information when they show more interest.

Automated email workflows send out the right message at the right time. A smart way to build and maintain relationships is to make sure your school stays on their radar. Remember, the goal is to make each family feel like they are getting a personal experience, even though the process is automated.

These emails can keep your school in their minds, provide helpful information, and maybe even encourage them to consider enrolling in the future.

Automated Email Workflow Ideas to Engage Students Who Haven't Enrolled

  • Thank You and Stay in Touch Email: After a family decides not to enroll, the first email should thank them for considering your school. Let them know you're still there to answer any questions and that you'd love to stay in touch.
  • School Highlights and Success Stories: Send emails with exciting news and stories about your school. These could be about student achievements, new programs, or special events.
  • Informational Updates: These emails can provide updates about changes or improvements in your school, like new facilities, updates to existing programs, or the introduction of new extracurricular activities.
  • Invitations to School Events: Families might still be interested in attending school events even if they haven't enrolled. Inviting them to activities keeps the door open and allows them to experience your school community.
  • Reminders for Next Year's Enrollment Process: Toward the end of the year, send reminders about the enrollment process for the next academic year. Include important dates, steps in the application process, and contact information if they have questions.
Nazareth Academy Enrollment newsletter on an iphone

Nazareth Academy High School allows users to sign up for its admissions newsletter. This is a great way to update prospective students and parents about admissions news and updates, upcoming important events, and invites to the next admission event.

Keep Reading: Admission Workflows to Re-engage Families Who Didn't Enroll

Person-to-Person Moments

Creating personal connections is key. These one-on-one interactions can leave a lasting impression on families. You could do this by:

  • Personalized Communication: When you send emails or messages, make them personal. Use their names, refer to previous interactions, and show that you remember their interests.
  • Host Special Events: Organize events like open houses, webinars, or small meet-and-greets and invite families who showed interest but haven't enrolled.
  • Follow-Up Conversations: After an event or interaction, follow up with a personal message. Ask for feedback, answer questions, or check in to see how they're doing.

Free ebook: The Enrollment Daily Planner

Focus on Enrollment Management

When you're trying to track and engage with families who have shown interest in your school but haven't enrolled yet, it may seem like a lot of data to juggle, but using a system like Finalsite Enrollment can make it easy.

With a detailed record of families who applied, were accepted, and have not enrolled, you can send tailored communications and keep these families updated on your school's programs and offerings. 

You can personalize information and share news about new programs, facility improvements, student and staff achievements, and upcoming events—everything to keep the conversations going in a meaningful way.

Key Takeaway

Keep in touch with families who haven't enrolled, regardless of their reason. Build a relationship with parents and students over time, and by using the right tools and strategies, you can make sure your school stays on their minds. When they're ready to decide, your school will be the first one families think of.

Finalsite Enrollment Tour

Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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